Michigan freshman Hunter Dickinson played high school basketball just three miles south of Xfinity Center at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville. He averaged a double-double as a senior and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland. But Maryland wasn’t on Dickinson’s list when he made his college decision.
Ahead of the Terps’ first matchup with Michigan on Dec. 31, Dickinson said he felt “a little disrespected” that he wasn’t recruited more aggressively by the Terps. The seven footer played with a chip on his shoulder in the New Year’s Eve game, leading Michigan to a double digit win with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
“He was phenomenal,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the loss. “Scored on the block, passed out of the block, I thought he was really good defensively. It was just one of those nights.”
In the teams’ second meeting Tuesday night, Dickinson was mostly absent from the Wolverine offense. He attempted just three shots for a total of three points, sitting for most of the second half when the game was out of hand.
The Terps locked down Dickinson defensively, but that wasn’t nearly enough to take down Michigan. The rest of the Wolverines’s offense carried the load, and Maryland fell by a score of 87-63.
“They’re really hard to guard,” Turgeon said. “If you don’t double them, they score on you. If you double them, they can shoot threes. They shot the ball terrific tonight and moved the ball great.”
Juwan Howard’s squad scored efficiently without Dickinson from the get-go on Tuesday. Michigan scored the first eight points of the game, bolstered by a pair of three pointers from grad transfer Mike Smith.
Even without its normal paint production from Dickinson, the Wolverines cruised to 87 points, largely due to an impressive shooting display from beyond the arc. They made a season high 12 threes — four of which came from senior forward Isaiah Livers.
Maryland moved in and out of a match-up zone defense throughout the game, but it never found success while defending the perimeter.
“Our rotations and our communications weren’t great, Turgeon said. “One time we’re back to zone and then get it lined up, and they hit a three… We call timeouts, and I’m just at a loss, really.”
Dickinson had trouble finding the bottom of the net even when his teammates got him the ball down-low.
On his second missed shot of the game, he attempted a layup off the glass over forward Galin Smith, and it rimmed out right into Smith’s hands.
Despite only three points from the likely Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Michigan won the post battle, tallying 30 points in the paint. The Terps finished with only 24, highlighting perhaps their biggest weakness: the low post.
“They had the size advantage across the board, except at point guard,” Turgeon said. “They’re hard to guard, and the thing that makes them even more special is how well they guard defensively and how locked in they are to their gameplan.”
The seventh-ranked team in the country was coming off its first loss of the season Saturday at Minnesota, a game where Dickinson’s struggles had consequences for his squad. He totaled nine points and five rebounds in 23 minutes on the floor.
Tuesday was a different story, and Michigan moved to 12-1 overall with the commanding win. Luckily for the Terps, they won’t see Dickinson and the Wolverines again in the regular season.
“It’s really hard,” guard Darryl Morsell said. “They’re a great team. Credit to Michigan, they surrounded a pretty good post guy with great shooters, and tonight they found their rhythm early. It’s evident how good they are.”